(AFP) – Mar 1, 2008
VIENNA (AFP) — At least eight people were killed and transport was severely disrupted in Europe after violent storms swept across the continent Saturday, emergency services said.
Four were killed in Austria, two in Germany and another two in the Czech Republic, mostly as a result of accidents caused by fallen trees or debris.
High winds also struck the Netherlands, where the government said it was monitoring the country's vital sea barriers amid high waves on the North Sea, while buildings were reported damaged in neighbouring Belgium.
In Austria, where winds reached up to 166 kilometres per hour (103 miles per hour), two German tourists were killed in separate incidents in the western province of Tyrol.
In the central Salzburg province, a taxi passenger was killed by rockfall apparently released by the storm and a woman was crushed to death in Lower Austria by a fallen tree in her car.
Some 10,000 homes in Upper Austria were without power, roads and sections of motorway had to be shut down and rail services around the country were severely disrupted.
In Germany, one driver in western Rhineland-Palatinate was crushed when a tree fell onto his car, while a 72-year-old man in Bavaria was killed when a strong gust of wind pushed him into the path of an oncoming lorry.
Six people were wounded, including one seriously, after their bus fell into a ditch near Erding in Bavaria, while in North Rhine-Westphalia, a 41-year-old woman was severely injured by a falling tree.
In Bruehl, near Bonn, a high-speed ICE train collided with a fallen tree on the tracks, causing several light injuries.
Heavy rain prompted flooding in several regions and waves measuring several metres were observed in the North Sea but authorities reported no shipping incidents.
Overall, the storm proved less violent than expected and a weather alert was lifted around noon.
Two people were also killed in the Czech Republic, where winds of up to 140 kilometres an hour swept through the country during the night and morning, felling trees and power lines, emergency services said.
An 11-year-old girl died from her injuries after a tree fell on her in Libeznice, near Prague, while an 80-year-old man was killed when a metal roof fell on top of him near Nymburk, in the east of the country.
About 40 people had to be evacuated from a block of flats in Prague after its roof was ripped off.
About 100,000 people were without electricity in the western Karlovarsky region and train services were disrupted around the country.
In the Netherlands, flights to and from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport suffered severe delays as only one runway could be used for take-offs and landings.
The government also said it was watching dykes and sea barriers and warned of potential flooding if the sea level rose. One barrier at Hollandsche IJssel in the west of the country was closed early Saturday as a precaution.
The national meteorological institute KNMI predicted winds of up to 100 kilometres per hour Saturday.
In France, a supermarket near Mulhausen in Upper Alsace, was evacuated as a precautionary measure after part of the roof was lifted off.
And in Belgium, a drug rehabilitation centre had to be evacuated near Louvain after a tree fell on the roof, following strong winds during the night from Friday to Saturday, but nobody was injured.
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